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THON 2014 Draws Closer 

This fundraising year started out with much optimism from all the members and officers in charge of Brandywine THON.


This fundraising year started out with much optimism from all the members and officers in charge of Brandywine THON.

Coming off the excitement of raising more than $12,000 during the fundraising season last year, everyone was eager to get back to work. Now that THON 2014 is a little more than a week away, Brandywine THON can look back on its record-breaking 2013-14 year with much pride and satisfaction knowing that hard-work paid off. And this year so far hasn’t been short of its memorable moments for the members.

“After that first weekend when we crushed what we wanted to get, that really got the ball rolling for it to be a successful year,” Mark Gurenlian, who was also involved with Springfield High School’s mini-THON organization, said.

During the first canning weekend, Brandywine THON was able to raise more than $8,500, which is a single weekend record for Brandywine. Many THON members were blown away and morale skyrocketed.  This extraordinary amount of money raised in a single weekend has led Brandywine THON to nearly double their amount from last year at more than $22,000 as of right now.

Lexie Smith, a Brandywine freshman, was stunned during her first canning experience at people’s constant generosity.

“Every time I would get a donation, I would get goose-bumps because I realized that there are some awesome people that will give you every bit of change in their car,” Smith said.

Other members loved the whole canning experience in general, and also loved hearing the stories of alums and survivors alike.

Some members were fans of the various events that occurred this year so far. Mike Mensah enjoyed the FT5K, a 5k run up at State College.  In addition, it’s a chance to meet the THON children.

Becca Jones said her favorite event was the 100 days ‘til THON celebration, which kicks off the official countdown to the dance marathon on February 21st to 23rd.

“Everyone had a good time and it was fun to plan as well,”  Jones said.

She was also a part of the committee for planning Brandywine’s personal celebration, which had its own special superhero theme.

Larry Paoletti was a big fan of the Chance auction that took place back on January 19. There were a bunch of different baskets and prizes to win with a spaghetti dinner all helping raise Brandywine’s total even higher.  But the food and prizes weren’t even his favorite part.

“I was able to hear an amazing story from a family that battled through cancer,” Paoletti said.

That family he was speaking of was the Chapman family, one of the Four Diamond families; this particular family is partnered with Penn State Abington THON’s organization, but has become very close friends with Brandywine members as well. The family’s youngest daughter, Gabrielle Chapman is a cancer survivor.  Gabby, along with her family, were all in attendance at the Brandywine THON’s chance auction.

All the members who were at the event had the chance to hear Gabby’s mother tell her story about her daughter’s fight against Medullablastoma, a malignant form of brain cancer.  And thanks to the doctors at the Hershey Medical Center and volunteers who work with THON, Gabby Chapman has been cancer free for more than 7 years.

“It’s mind blowing to this day that THON gives you hope when you are at the end of your rope and hanging on for dear life,” Peg Chapman said. “I cannot imagine our lives without THON or our kids that are family now. Our lives are forever altered by this AMAZING organization.”

For many of the newer THON members they had never met a Four Diamonds family or heard their story of how cancer had affected one of their children. It was very inspiring for many of them to hear a story from one of the many people that THON is helping.

Brandywine members will be cheering on Brandywine THON’s dancer Liz Gramlich and Jason Severin who will be standing for 46 non-stop hours during the weekend.

“I am beyond excited for THON weekend! With only a few weeks left I can hardly wait to dance all weekend for the kids,” said Shannon Wright, who, like many others, has never been to THON weekend. “My sister and I are already planning our outfits and breaking in our new sneakers! This will probably be the best weekend of our lives!”

Michael Mensah will also be witnessing his first THON.

“I cannot explain to you in words how excited I am for THON weekend. I’m counting down the days,” Mensah said. “I can’t wait to just go into the BJC and just witness the atmosphere for myself.”

“I am so excited for THON this year, I have no stopped thinking and planning about it since last year, it was the most incredible experience of my life.” Said Nikki Maginnis, who is the younger sister of Brandywine THON overall, Jessica Maginnis.

The total amount raised all by all of THON last year in 2012-13 was $12.3 million, and considering the amount of work that has been put in this year just for Brandywine, it could likely be another record-breaking year.


Paul Alberici, Lions Eye staff Writer

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